“The West Surrey Cyclist” - July - September 2000
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SO the “Big One”, the Millennium Magic cycling and social event we talked about in the previous issue, came to grief and the South of England Millennium Rally, due to be centred on Merrist Wood College, Worplesdon, over the Spring bank holiday weekend, failed to materialise.
I almost said “came to naught” but, in many respects, the planning of the rally had a real positive effect on those who participated and on the West Surrey CTC District Association in general.
There was the learning process itself. Those involved in preparing the ground for the rally-that-never-was learned much about the art of effective communications. This was not a waste of time. Those who prepared the routes, checked them out on a bracing Sunday in April, those who negotiated hire terms with the college, booked the entertainment, dealt with the finances, prepared and placed the advertising... none of them wasted their time, not if you think of it in terms of experience gained.
Elsewhere in this issue is a report of the situation as seen by the committee after the decision to cancel was taken. All I want to say in this space is a hearty “well done” to all helpers, movers and shakers. It was not your fault that the rally was cancelled.
It is now up to us all to think deeply and constructively about where we go from here. Those who have the interests of the CTC’s West Surrey community of cyclists at heart must show they are receptive to new ideas. Indeed, we should accept that the time has probably come for a real sea change in how we organise and facilitate social cycling in these parts. All who read this, members of the CTC or not, are invited to come up with a new raison d’etre for us. I hesitate to say this, but to really concentrate our minds perhaps what we need first is to formulate a Vision Statement.
MANY committee members and current organisers are muttering darkly about giving up at the next AGM. Perhaps the committee as such will cease to exist. If that happens the hope is that it would be replaced by a “lean machine” of fired-up activists determined to shake up the DA in most, if not all, respects.
Such a “lean machine” would have a tremendous backup in the form of the DA’s finances, which are in an extremely healthy state. The £3,000 cash reserve alone provides reason enough for the DA to continue here in West Surrey, where West Surrey CTC members would retain the right to control it and spend it. Should the DA fold, the money would be swallowed up by whatever neighbouring DA took us over or, indeed, revert to general funds at CTC HQ.
So the message is: We are flush with funds to help put your good ideas into practice. Give the DA a shake up by all means, but don’t let it be thrown away through apathy. We have everything to play for.
IT IS excellent and encouraging that Bob Jackson Cycles are so supportive of the magazine. From this issue they have increased their advertisement booking to two full pages - and this from a specialist frame-building firm based in faraway Yorkshire.
Of course, Bob Jackson frames abound among dedicated cyclists. And the fact that the firm has a fine international reputation was brought home to me in March in the unlikely setting of a South Florida supermarket.
I had cycled to a huge Wal*Mart to collect some processed photographs and the photo department manager, having clocked my cycling attire and my accent, took me on one side to ask: “What do you think of Bob Jacksons? ”
Naturally I was full of praise for the firm, its topnotch frames and respraying service, mentioning three pals of mine who are devotees. It turned out he had inherited a Jackson and was himself extremely pleased with it.
I’ll see that he gets a copy of this magazine and who knows, perhaps Bob Jackson Cycles will get another order out of it as a result.
WHILE on the subject of Florida, I took my hack bike over when I was visiting my brother in Boca Raton. I did not expect to do much cycling as I had just read in a Cycling Plus winter sun feature the following:
“Florida has some very low-priced winter deals and is certainly sunny, but it’s too flat and soulless for great cycling.”
Well, I am here to tell you that the latter point is emphatically not so. Florida is great for cycling - in its own way.
After a phone call or two I was invited to join a ride with the Boca Raton Bicycling Club. This went up the coast to Palm Beach. I also went on the annual Snowbirds Century brilliantly organised around South Florida farmland by the Everglades Bicycle Club of South Miami. The hack bike performed well and I had a great time on both rides in February in temperatures exceeding 80 deg F. I hugely enjoyed “draughting” at an average of around 23 mph (I’m told) with bunches who knew what they were doing and were very tolerant of this strange Limey and his even stranger machine.
Certainly it was flat but Florida and my cheery companions provided a unique new insight into cycling for me which I will not forget.
I would be delighted to put any reader in touch with the cycling fraternity in South Florida should you be tempted to follow in my wheels. Take your best bike, wear your best gear, meet the gang, and you will have a fab time.
The Snowbird ride is named after the winter holidaymakers who flock to South Florida from the frozen northlands. It gives a choice of 100km or 100 miles. I personally was given no choice. Because I am English it was assumed I would do the “imperial” century. This took in a loop touching on the borders of the Everglades National Park, whence I returned later with my wife for a few days communing with nature and some more fine cycling.
So heed not the throwaway lines of cycling writers who may not have actually cycled in Florida. The “bicycling” - as they insist on calling it, to differentiate from motor-cycling - scene is healthy, with lots of events which would appeal to visitors, and good companionship is guaranteed.
Next time I am hoping to cycle with proud locals down the Overseas Highway (US 1) to Key West. On that route, of course, one has to be careful of the traffic. Very careful.
The MILLENNIUM RALLY has been cancelled; not I trust due to pessimism engendered by the rather negative attitude to the new millennium expressed in my last article. Will this mean the end of the Southern Counties Rallies? The fact that we had no option but to cancel it, due to lack of support, will obviously discourage other D.A.’s from taking on the responsibility of organising future rallies. It would seem possible that the West Surrey D.A. may have been organisers of the first (1978 Godalming) and last rallies: I hope not.
I suspect that there was more than one cause for the lack of support. We were told to provide something special. We set out to do just that, with a superb camp site, good meals, entertainment, excellent runs both on and off-road, food stops, places of interest to visit, etc. etc. Unfortunately we found ourselves in competition with other CTC events which could be entered for less money. Also I cannot but wonder if another factor is that the average CTC member is a different animal to his counterpart of some years ago. I joined the CTC in 1971, after a chance meeting with The ‘Thursday Nighters’ in the ‘Queen’s Head’ at East Clandon (now sickeningly re-named the ‘Wishing Well’!!!!). The ‘Thursday Nighters’ were regularly 12 to 15 strong and were ‘dyed in the wool’ life-time cyclists and CTC members; many had cycling families. Now few of us ever cycle at night and we are often the only one in the family who cycles. The latter fact means that we are, understandably, expected to reserve much of our spare time for family activities, which, unfortunately, do not include cycling. Hence the many members who inevitably do not join D.A. rides on a Sunday, or who turn for home after coffee. Also participation in D.A. events has steadily reduced to the point where cancellation of some is now being considered.
I find the above very sad but realise that it has just to be accepted as a result of changing times. Nevertheless I am surprised that more members are not attracted by the challenge of ‘Reliability Rides’ which provide a good day on the bike, attractive routes and the satisfaction of achievement.
‘50 MILE RELIABILITY RIDE’ 9th April - I had not really expected that what I had written about lack of support for D.A. events would apply to that old favourite the ‘50 Reliability’ but entries were down to 15. The usual number has been around the 30 mark (50 in 1978). Those who rode it did so in the dry - 29 years without rain to my knowledge - and the sunshine. The spring flowers were beautiful; primroses, wood anemones, celandines and early bluebells. Everyone finished and we had an enjoyable get-together in the ‘King’s Head’ at Holmbury St Mary with good food, a glass of beer, much chat and many laughs. Surely that after a good ride is what cycling is all about - or am I behind the times?
TALKING OF BEING BEHIND THE TIMES, I have just fitted my old touring bike with ‘Index gears’. Having made my point that they are not actually essential - including racing in France on a 1947 Bates with a Simplex lever front changer - I felt that the time had come for me to enjoy the advantages which they bestow. So a little widening of the rear drop-outs allowed the fitting of a Suntour 7 speed block, which mated with a Suntour Accu-shift system bought from Chris Avery (I also bought two boxed inner tubes from him - one proved to have a patch on it; I haven’t seen him since!). All this allied with a Shimano triple chainset, obtained at the Ripley Jumble, means that I am now happily clicking up and down my 21 gears - and all without having spent a fortune on an old bike - well we pensioners have to be careful!
SOME NOSTALGIA FROM A CTC DIARY FOR 1944 (in the form of a refill, price 1/6d [7.5pence])
Under the heading ‘Cycling Law’ :- ‘During the hours of darkness no cycle may be ridden at more than 20mph in a built-up area.’
‘Lamp Lighting Law’ :- ‘During the hours of darkness every bicycle or tricycle on the roads must display a white light to the front and a red light and a “White surface” to the rear. Only “an authorised bicycle lamp” may be used for displaying the white front light on a bicycle or tricycle. No lamp, no matter how dim the light it gives, is “an authorised bicycle lamp” unless (a) the upper half of the glass has been blacked out, the lower half of the reflector has been blacked out or otherwise rendered ineffective, and all side and rear panels have been blacked out, or (b) the upper half of the glass has been blacked out, all parts of the inner surface of the lamp on which light from the lamp falls, except the lower half of the inner surface of the front glass, are matt white. Whichever method is adopted the power must not exceed seven watts.
‘The rear light must be displayed from “an authorised rear lamp.” Provided that the light is red and emitted through only one aperture, the lamp may comply with either of the following conditions :- (a) the aperture is circular and is one inch in diameter and the light is clearly visible at a distance of thirty yards but not visible at a distance of three hundred yards, or (b) that the aperture is of unrestricted size and the glass is dimmed with one sheet of tissue paper or its equivalent. In both cases the power must not exceed seven watts. Cyclists who comply with the foregoing requirements are doing all that the law demands. There are special circumstances, however, in which they need not carry out all the obligation mentioned.’
In case you hadn’t realised - ‘there was a war on’. From what I remember there was no battery or dynamo operated lamp with an output remotely like 7 watts or with any chance of being visible at 300yds. The brightest lamps would surely have been acetylene.
P.S. Anyone seen Chris Avery?
THE annual bike ride in aid of the Camberley-based Make-A-Wish Foundation UK is likely to be a cracker this year as it has reverted to being a linear route - 50 miles from Camberley to Portsmouth - and for the first time is taking in the length of Hayling Island and the little ferry across to Eastney.
West Surrey CTC rider “Captain” Bill Thompson has devised the route from Make-A-Wish HQ along country lanes to Fleet, Greatham, and Havant, before riders are offered the Hayling Billy cycletrail down to the ferry across Langstone Harbour, thus avoiding the heavy north-south traffic south of Portsdown Hill and on Portsea Island itself.
The date is Sunday September 10 and entry at £10 per rider includes a commemorative t-shirt. Entry forms are available from Make-A-Wish, Minster Court, Tuscam Way, Camberley GU15 3YY. Phone 01276 24127. Fax 01276 683727. E-mail: Sue.Tiplady@make-a-wish.org.uk
Credit, debit, and Switch cards are accepted.
Readers wanting to chat about the event can call Bill Thompson on 01276 25191. Detailed route information is included in entry packs.
TRICYCLATHON will take place on October 1 at a location to be announced. The idea is to complete three events - a hill climb against the clock, a pacing competition judging your own speed over a distance, and a downhill freewheel based on distance achieved without pedaling.
THE proposed new batch of rides tentatively slotted in for September 3 starting at Pirbright Village Hall and including a choice of four distances, 15 miles, 50 miles, 75 miles, and 100 miles, have been cancelled by the committee through lack of support. But the committee promises full support to anyone who feels they would like to take on the organisation of any of these rides. Please get in touch.
ALTHOUGH the Millennium Rally was cancelled, the Audax events of 100km, 150km, and 200km, organised for West Surrey DA by Roger Philo as part of the programme, took place as planned from Merrist Wood College, Worplesdon, on May 28.
SURREY County Council has teamed up with its borough and district councils and the British Heart Foundation to promote a series of ten short community cycle rides all across the county this summer. The rides are of varying lengths and are designed as much for casual cyclists as regular riders.
Everyone taking part will be asked if they wish to make a voluntary donation of £5 for individuals and £10 for a family, all of which will go to the BHF, whose volunteers are taking care of all administration. People can register in advance or just turn up on the day.
The programme of rides is part of the county council’s Spirit of the Oak umbrella of Millennium celebrations which is receiving a National Lottery grant from the Millennium Commission.
SCC-promoted rides coming up include:
ELMBRIDGE: Sunday July 2. Start point/venue: Hurst Park near Hampton Court. Start time: between 10.30am and 12.30pm. Length of ride: ten miles.
TANDRIDGE: Sunday July 9. Start point/venue: St Piers, Lingfield. Start time: between 10.30am and 12.30pm. Length of ride: seven miles.
SURREY HEATH: Sunday July 30. Start point/venue: Frimley Lodge Park. Start time: between 9.30am and 11.30am. Length of ride: seven miles.
WOKING: SUNDAY August 13. Start point/venue: Brewery Road car park, Woking. Start time: between 9.30am and 11.30am. Length of ride: seven miles.
REIGATE AND BANSTEAD: Sunday August 20. Start point/venue: Priory Park, Reigate. Start time: between 1.00pm and 3.00pm. Length of ride: 15 miles.
Full details are set out in a leaflet available at libraries, council offices, and bike shops.
More information can also be obtained by phoning Surrey County Council on 0845 009009 or by accessing the Spirit of the Oak Internet website at http://www.surrey2000.org.uk/spirit.html
BILL Mann will be standing down as leader of the Intermediates Group which rides on Sundays with runs typically of 50 to 60 miles at a moderate pace of 12 mph to 14 mph.
A volunteer is urgently needed to take over by mid-August at the latest so that the October-December programme can be prepared in time for inclusion in the runs list covering that period.
The DA committee has suggested that consideration might be given to switching the intermediates group rides from Sundays to Saturdays. What do members think? Might this increase turnout? Do please let officers know.
A FRIEND to all cyclists and an inspiration to many, our much respected vice-president Ken Bolingbroke died in May, aged 68.
Hamish Smith writes: The untimely death of Ken has robbed us of one of the few remaining old-style bachelor cyclists and an unrivalled character. Totally ingenuous, mostly preoccupied, he was often the cause of merriment. But as a cyclist he raced, travelled widely in the UK and abroad, and was always available as marshal, organiser, competitor, and committee member.
He was reserved and reticent about his achievements but he was an accomplished photographer and keen musician, while his knowledge of aircraft and air traffic was phenomenal.
His older friends will remember him as an ardent youth-hosteller and regular participant on mountaineering trips. Travelling solo he once scaled the lower slopes of Mont Blanc.
Paddy Shea writes: Ken was a special kind of person and a favourite kind of friend, at peace with all things - as a photographer (photographer of the year in the 1960s for his Woking club), aircraft mad and a steam enthusiast.
I have had some wonderful times with him. The one I most cherish was when he played his piano for me at his home for the last time. Piano music was, I think, his greatest love. Thank you Ken from us all.
Harry Statham writes: I remember Ken as a man who was different, a man of iconoclastic charm, a man who, in other circumstances, we would follow into battle, a man who found it difficult to follow a conversation based on half-remembered TV adverts.
FOURTEEN friends from West Surrey DA attended the funeral on May 2 of George Porter, who was born at Ascot in 1916. Before the Second World War he cycled with the Windsor and Eton sections of Herts and Bucks DA and time-trialled with Bracknell and District Wheelers. His racing diary shows him to have been a good consistent club rider.
After demobilisation he concentrated on touring and became a regular member of West Surrey Hardriders. By 1960 he was leading high mileage parties to many interesting areas. One regular Easter group trip involved cycling to Reading for an overnight train into Wales, cycling to Newtown for breakfast and then on to Dolgellau for a pub B and B, to be followed by the Snowdonia mountains and a ride to Shrewsbury, the train back to Reading, and the ride home.
He was a long-serving committee member and in 1984 joined two other retired members to launch the DA’s Midweek Wayfarers, taking pride in its success even if a little resistant to changes in the programme.
Donations in memory of George were made by members to the British Heart Foundation. In a letter of thanks, George’s sister Mona wished the Midweek Wayfarers many more years of enjoyable cycling.
The CTC is publishing its new draft plan for the next five years - including a target of 100,000 members. Elected councillors, including me, spent many hours in workshops with CTC staff, grappling with new management jargon, looking at where the CTC is now and what are its strengths and weaknesses. This is so we could say where we should be going and what we need to do to get there.
One of the strengths I emphasised was the vast knowledge, experience, and dedication of our DA activists, especially the DA officers. They know so much about all the local routes, where the good cafés and pubs are, what are the best short cuts, how to mend bikes - and every possible fact about gear ratios.
But there are some weaknesses in some DAs too. I have had one local DA officer say “We don’t want new riders coming along - they can’t keep up and hold us back!” It is pretty obvious that approach will lead to the death of any group. Most cyclists are helpful to new recruits and try various schemes to attract new riders. We have to persevere with that or we won’t get the cyclists we need to get more cycle-friendly roads for all of us.
The CTC is publishing its draft plan in the CTC magazine. Please read it, discuss and give your views on it and what we should be doing.
About 40 cyclists were at the inaugural meeting of the new South-East Region of the CTC on March 18th in Reading. After intensive discussions, they agreed there was a lot to gain from having a regional organisation - regional events, more joint rides, more influence on Government plans for cycling in the area and a bigger local presence to encourage cycling. One staffer is in place. When the first working meeting for the region is fixed please consider attending and help make it a success.
There will be elections for all CTC councillors this summer. The south-east needs three. I am probably not going to stand so, again, please think about standing. If you want information on what it involves, please ring me on 01483 563392.
AS you may know, the West Surrey DA was arranging to host the Southern Counties Millennium Rally at Merrist Wood during the Spring bank holiday weekend. On April 12 the committee decided to abandon it. Why?
The Southern Counties DAs had asked us to arrange something particularly special to mark the Millennium. As a consequence the arrangements that we had in hand were imaginative, but not cheap. In fact, to break even, we had to attract the same number of participants - about 150 - as had attended the 1999 rally at Oxford, while charging slightly more per person.
By mid-April we had spent nearly £900 on publicity and various deposits and we were about to have to pay the balances which would have amounted to a further £2,000.
Unfortunately, at that point we had firm bookings from only 16 people, who had paid a total of £150. We decided it would be imprudent to continue to risk this sort of money in the face of the lack of interest being shown in the event and so we cancelled it. We confidently expect to be able to retrieve our losses from the CTC reserve fund set up for such an eventuality.
We can only speculate on why the event failed to capure interest but probably a combination of cost, location, and the plethora of other events in the region this year, especially the Birthday Rides at Canterbury, all contributed.
Anyway, the committee would like to thank all those many people who helped in many small ways as well as large ones.
All of this may mark a watershed in the fortunes of our DA. At this stage it is understood that all of the present officers of the committee intend to take a break from service and not seek re-election at the AGM in November. This note is now intended to stimulate some thought among members as to the DA’s future.
It seems pretty evident that the vast bulk of the active members of the DA are content to limit their contribution to the club to the regular weekly rides which they take part in with the groups of their choice. There has been little interest shown in helping to organise and staff club events and the turnout at the Christmas dinner and prize-giving has been disappointingly low. Although we share a common interest, it has not produced much cohesion across the DA.
There is no criticism intended here but what it does mean is that fresh hands will now have to be found to serve if the DA is to continue to try to encourage wider participation by running a full programme of events every year.
Failing this, it is quite feasible to keep the DA ticking over with a group of four people - one to edit the magazine, one to co-ordinate the runs lists, and a secretary and treasurer. That would at least preserve the DA in being.
Failing this minimalist requirement, the DA would probably fold. This would be very sad and particularly so when you consider that the £3,000 we have in savings would go back to the CTC or to another DA if the CTC decided to merge us.
However, for those public-spirited souls who we are confident will make themselves available to serve, this £3,000 could provide the basis for revitalising the DA. We believe that the time has now arrived for the next committee to find ways of gradually and sensibly spending this money on the DA rather than hoarding it.
These are important issues for us all to think and talk about so that by the time of the AGM in November the way forward is clear and the people who will form the new leadership are known.
HOW would you like to see your visionary artistic work on the cover of The West Surrey Cyclist? The invitation is still open for anyone with any semblance of artistic inclination to produce a new cover for us all to enjoy - pen and ink line drawings would be gratefully received by the Editor.
Alternatively, send in some suitable photographs. We have a volunteer, Paul Butler, who will transform them into drawings appropriate for a cover.
The committee has also sanctioned the idea of producing an entirely new cycling top for West Surrey DA members. But before we order supplies in all shapes and sizes there is the small matter of the design to be considered.
Come on, let us have your ideas. Be as modern and colourful as you like. Current DA colours are gold and green on white. But even this could change. It would be good to have a mock-up ready in time for the AGM in November - so get cracking now!
TWO of our members completed the End To End in May in aid of Woking Hospice.
Bryon Alden and fellow West Surrey DA rider Phil Hamilton completed the Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in a sedate (for them) 14 days, staying at bed and breakfast establishments en route and accompanied throughout by a support car.
The ride was high profile, with regular progress reports appearing in the Woking News and Mail, and more than £5,000 banked in sponsorship at the end of the ride, hopefully with more to come. Local Peugeot dealer Ian Allan provided a 406 TD estate car as a back-up facility for the entire ride.
A full report on the epic will appear in a future issue.
A LOT of people in the West Surrey DA put in an enormous amount of work to set up the South of England Millennium Rally. It was not their fault that the rally had to be cancelled. It was due to having only 14 firm bookings in mid-April.
No-one should be blamed for the failure of the rally. In fact, many people should be thanked for all the time they voluntarily gave to the project.
Marguerite A Statham
PS: Pity Harold broke his leg for nothing....!
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